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centerstage. sarah palin in iowa, a visit that's raising big questions about her future and the party's. drawing a crowd. the faithful and the furious. >> we don't want him here! >> strong words tonight from the pope in london. taking aim. hurricane igor bears down on bermuda as the cleanup begins in the wake of another killer storm. and miracle mom. a young mother of three defies death and now she's using her a young mother of three defies death and now she's using her life to make a difference. captions paid for by nbc-universatelevision good evening. coming off of a drama of some of this week's state primary contests, beeve it or not, not all the political focus these
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days is on the november midterm elections. the run-up to the 2012 presidential campaign is also slowly starting to build. tonight, those handicapping the potential republican challengers are trying to figure out wha to make of sarah palin's high profile appearance this weekend in a place where presidential runs usually get off the grou. nbc's in washington to tell us more. >> reporter: sarah palin is becoming a party king-maker while at the same time defying the reblican establishment. now the question is will she, can she, try to parlay that popularity with the conservative base into a successful run for the oval office? for sarah palin, these are heady days. >> it's time for no more business as usual. it is time to take our country back. >> reporter: fresh off a string of primary victories for candidates she endorsed, palin got a raucus welcome last night from republican party faithful
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in iowa, site of the first presidential battleground, igniting a new round of speculation about her designs on the white house. she played coy. >> todd says i don't know, i think you should go downstairs, run on that trdmill. i said why would i want to stay indoors. todd says because i guarantee you, if anybody spots you in the tennis shoes, the headline's going to be vanity fair, they're going to sayalin in iowa decides to run. >> they call us whacky. they call us wingnuts. we call us we the people. >> reporter: by helping launch unknowns like delaware's christine o'donnell to a gop senate nominati, palin has emerged as aonservative king maker. but her own path to the presidency is anything but clear. >> one thing i know. america will repudiate obama style liberalism. >> reporter: seasoned candidates like romney and huckabee have
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spent time wooing voters. some say her celebrity won't be enough. >> iowans expect you to make connections in iowa different than a lot of states where you can breeze in, give a speech and then check out almost like a ro star. >> reporter: experts say palin is polarizing and her political base too narrow. >> she's clearly force there but she has to broaden that appeal if she's going to run for president. >> reporter: it's a belief shared by many democrats. today, president obama enjoyed his usual saturday game of basketball and while aides insist the president isn't yet thinking about 2012, the spokesman is happy to assert that palin now sits atophe gop. >> i have no doubt that she is a formidable force in the republican party and may well be in all honesty, the most formidable force in the republican party right now. >> reporter: lester, to give you some idea of how crowded the gop for 2012 is already becoming,
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today a relative unknown, indiana's mike pancey, won a presidential straw poll in a convention of social conservatives. he delivered rousing speech yesterday, speaking to many of the issues that this group was concerned about, and sarah palin, who did not addss the group, she came in dead last. lester? >> thanks. tens of thousands of people took to the streets in london today as pope benedict continued his historic visit to the united kingdom. the crowds included the faithful as well as those protesting the child abuse scandal that has rocked the chuh in recent years. today, the pope addreed that scandal directly. >> reporter: at a mass i london, pope benedict made his strongest statement yet on the child abuse scandal that has dogged his papacy and shaken the cathic church. >> above all i express my deep sorrow to the innocent victims of this despicable crimes.
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>> reporter: the pope rarely looked up from h prepared text but his message was clear and his words powerful. >> i also acknowledge your shame and humiliation which all of us have suffered. >> reporter: outside, 2,000 young catholics who had traveled from far and wide to hear his voice. young people are at the heart of the scandal. over the years it's alleged that thousands have been abused by priests and other church officials and the pope has been under growing pressure to address the issue. today he confronted it personally meeting privately with five victims. some say he also has to do more to punish theuiltynd to prevent such abuse from happening again. >> his words just seem to be really hollow because unless action follows, they do become meaningless. >> reporter: even as the pope spoke, thousands of demonstrators gathered nearby, protesting not just the child abus scandal, but also the position of the church on gay
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rights and birth control. but there was a warm welcome for the pope here as well. across town, some 80,000 gather to participate in a papal vigil. the crowds here at hyde park pose the biggest security challenge for london's police force. already on high alert following a series of dawn raids and arrests across the capital. despite security concns, the pope has maintained a punishing schedule. already he's met the queen, been serenaded by susan boyle, and made strides in healing a centuries-old rift with the church of england. but it's the child abuse scandal that has dominated this visit, as it has pope benedict's papacy itself. tourists tonight are scrambling to leave the island of bermuda as powerful atlantic hurricane igor closes in. as residents brace for the storm, the remnants of hurricane karl continue to spa flooding
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across parts of mexico. at least six people have died there while scores of others have been rescued from the rising water. so with that one-two punch, the weather channel's jim cantore joins us from bermuda as residents prepare for the arrival of igor. jim? >> reporter: ah, the premiere has set the tone in calling this what is going to be one of the worst hurricanes to ever affect the island. it's going to be a long duration event. look at the satellite picture here. if we were to take this cloud shield and stick it on a map of the unitedstates, it would pretty much stretch from green bay, wisconsin all the way down to miami. that's huge. so that means bermuda is going to endure tropical storm and hurricane force winds anywhere from 24o 36 urs, which is a tremendous long time, probay about three to four times what wouldormally be the case here for a storm. so we're looking at winds even though they dropped down to 100 miles an hour today, enough, strong enough to tree damage and also power line damage which is really what they're expecting here to be the main issue. a lot of tree and power line damage. 64,000 people are definitely ready to brace this thing.
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they were out today admiring mother nature's handiwork, waves forecast to be as high as 40 feet. some of those waves will csh as high as 20 feet once they make it to shore. from really later on tonight all the way through monday, it is going to be a long event for bermuda. we are obviously hoping for the best on this tiny island. everything is shutting down as we speak. back to you. >> we wish you and everyone there the best. jim cantore, thank you. getting ready for igor. now to the gulf of mexico and the louisiana coast, where residents hope they haveeard the last from bp's blown out well. nbc's chief environmental affairs correspondent has been following this story from the beginning. she joins us tonight from louisiana. >> reporter: good evening, lester. late tonight, the crew of the development driller 3 will perform a presse test on the cement seal at the bottom of the well. it wants to see if that seal can withstand 1150 pound of pressure per square inch for
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about a half hour. if it does, then it's up to national incident commander thad allen to declarehis well dead once and for all. before the final pressure test can be conducted, workers had to bring up the drill pipe. coming out in 125-foot sections from the relief well. this is john wright's 41st reef well, but this spill and its impact, h says, make it the most important of his career. >> the fact that it had done so much damage, we were able to help solve and fix something that so many people wanted and needed fixed as quickly as possible. >> reporter: almost five months ago, theell exploded in fire, killing 11 men on the deepwater horizon rig, and spewing nearly five million barrels of oil. bp amassed a small floating city at the site to contain an environmental disaster unlike any in the nation's history. toy, just a handful of vessels
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remain. this chapter of the disaster now ending with the bottom kill. is is what they had to hit, a hole an inch smaller than this dinner plate, just eight inches wide. three and a half miles below the surface of the gulf, and then fill it with cement. on the development driller 3, there was a sense of accomplishment, but for many of the gulf's fishermen, the anxiety remains. donna and junior are shrimpers. >> they can kill all they want, but it's not going to no good because the oil is already on the surface floor. the damage is done already. >> reporter: that is why there will be no celebrating oe the well is officially declared dead. it is simply taken too much, too many lives and too many livelihoods. lester? >> ann thompson in louisiana, thank you. in afghanistan today, voters defied violence to go to the polls to elect a new parliament. it's only the second such
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election since the fall of the taliban in 2001, and the first time afghans have run the process themselves. john yang joins us with more from kabul. good evening. >> reporter: good evening. officials say at least 14 people were killed in taliban rocket and bomb attacks on this election day but the taliban failed to stop the voting as they had promised to do. in fact, despite a recent uptick in violencehere, today w calmer than last year's presidential election, but turnout appears to have been spotty at best. ne of the long lines that marked last year's balloting. this was a key test of afghan progress today, not only security progress, but political ogress. president obama wants to start withdrawing troops next summer. late today in a statement, top u.s. commander general david petraeus stressed that today the afghans were in charge, in charge of security and in charge of the voting process. last year's election, of course, was marked by massive fraud and
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observers are already saying there was evidence of fraud again today. so the biggestest will be how the afghan government handles those complaints and with 2500 candidates running for 249 offices, there's bound to be a lot more complaints to come. lester? >> john, thanks. sarah shourd is headed home tonight, the american woman freed from custody in iran this week after more than a year behind bars, is returning to the united states after a stop-over in oman. before she lefthe spoke publicly about the two companions she left behind. >> reporter: sarah shourd prepared to leave the country full of gratitude to the country that helped gain her freedom. >> i will always associate your country with the first breath of my freedom. the sweet smell of sandalwood. and the chance to stand by the ocean listening to the waves. >> reporte once again, she appealed for the release of her companions.
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>> please, please extend your prayers to my fiance, shane, and my friend josh. that they will soon be free. >> reporter: officials have said shane and josh, aested with shourd back in july of 2009, for allegedly crossing illegally from iraq into iran, will face trial for ying. the americans claim they were just hiking. in tehran last week, andrea mitchell asked iran's president what evidence exists of spying. >> i think we should let the judge and the court decide about the case. >> reporter: he said on state-run television that the united states should now release several iranians being held in america, and has listed 11 people. >> translator: we hope tt our dear iranians who are in prison there will be reunited with their families. >> reporter: meanwhile, shourd flies to the u.s. with her
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companions still very much on her mind. >> it is my deepest, deepest hope that iill be able to show shane and josh the grand mosque soon, one of the most peacel and powerful places of worship i have ever seen. >> reporter: her first stop in th united states will be here in new york tomorrow. a visit with a purpose. leaders from around the world, including iran's president, a gathering for the annual meeting of the unid nations general assembly. shourd plans to talk to the world's media sunday, trying to keep the world's attention focused o her fiance and friend left behind in iran. lester? >> ron, thank you. just ahead of that general assembly meeting, this program note. tomorrow morning on "meet the press" davidgregory's guests include former president bill clinton and general colin powell. when "nbc nightly news" continues this saturday, chilling testimony in a home invasion case that stunned the nation. later, making a difference. a young mother's extraordinary recovery that is being called a miracle.
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[ water runs ] [ female announcer ] new chef boyardee whole grain beefaroni. the taste kids love. [ whispering ] now with whole grain pasta. shh. one of the most terrifying murder cases in memory is playing out in a connecticut courtroom. on trial, a man accused of torturing and killing a motr and two daughters in their own home. here's jeff rossen. >> reporter: in this surveillance video, the final picture of jennifer hawk petit, less than an hour before her death. prosecutors say petit was at a local bank withdrawing $15,000 and cmly told the bank teller her entire family was being held
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hostage at home. husband william, a prominent ctor and their two kids, 11-yr-old michaela and 17-year-old haley. she said she needed the money for ransom and one of the suspects was waiting in the parking lot. that's when the bank manager made this chilling call to 911. >> reporter: wh good reason. prosecutors say these two men, steven hayes and joshua komisarjevsky were terrorizing the family, beating dr. petit with a baseball bat and tying him to thi pole in the basement. his two daughters were tied to their beds upstairs. >> they told us they wouldn't hurt anybody if she got back there with the money. she believes them. >> reporter: but prosecutors say
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once back home, jennifer petit was sexually assaulted and strangled. then officials say the suspects set the house on fire. the mother and her two daughters were killed. dr. william petit escaped. >> just tried to do the bes i could for my family. >> reporter: this week he took the stand, describing in gripping detail his family's final moments. they tied my hands at the wrists and my feet at the ankles, he told the jury. he heard one of the suspects say if he moves, put two bullets in him. petit testified he could hear his wife and children being tortured in another section of the house. i heard them moaning and thumps. >> how emotional was it for you to be on thetand today? >> very emotional. >> reporter: in court an unusual strategy by steven hayes' defense attorney. in an effort to avoid the death penalty, he admits his client committed the crime but also points the finger at police, saying officersould have don more to save the family. the police did respond to the
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petit home but never went inside. on the stand, the police captain testified they followed procol, telling the jur if we had any indication of violence, i would have been the first one through the door. prosecutors are pushing forhe death penalty in a crime that was as brutal as william petit appears strong. nbc news, new york. en we come back here tonight, new hope for those trapped miners in chile. a heart attack th's caused by a clot, one that could be fatal. but plavix helps save lives. plavix, taken with other heart medicines, goes beyond what other heart medicines do alone, to provide grear protection against heartttack or stroke and even death by helping to keep blood platelets from sticking together and forming dangerous clots. ask your doctor f plavix is right for you. otection that helps save lives. [ female announcer ] certain genetic factors and some medicines, such as prilosec, reduce the effect of plavix leaving you at greater risk for heart attack and stroke.
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your doctor may use genetic tests to determine treatment. don't stop taking plavix without talking to your doctor as your risk oheart tack or stroke may increase. people with stomach ulcers or conditions that cause bleeding should not use plavix. taking plavix alone or witsome other medines, including aspirin, may irease bleeding risk, so tell your doctor when planning surgery. tell your doctor all medicines you take, including aspirin, especially if you've had a strok if fever, unexplained weakness or confusion develops, tell your doctor promptly. these may be signs of ttp, a rare but potentially life-threatening condition, reported sometimes less than 2 weeks after starting avix. other rare but serious side effects may occur. [ female announcer ] yoplait's real fruit and the goodness of dairy gives you a little slice of happy. and happiness comes in 25 delicious flavors. yoplait. it is so good. you get nothing for driving safely. truthat allstate, you get a check in the mail twice a year, every year you don't have an accident.
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the safe driving bonus® check. dollar for dollar, noby protects you like allstate. a collision today on the new york state throughway has left at leastix people dead. the accident involved a church van carrying 14 that collid with a tractor-trailer. several people were critically injured. in chile, the first of three
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drills has reached the 33 trapped miners, breaking through to their compartment 2,000 feet below ground. the plan now to make the hole wide enough to bring the men to the surface. that is expected, however, to take weeks. for actress lindsay lohan, it was confession time on twitter. she told fans today she has failed a court-ordered drug test. that could mean more jail time for lohan. viewers of a certain age will find this hard to believe, but it was 40 years ago today that jimmy hendrix died i london at the agof 27 of an apparent drug overdose. his legend has grown ever since with previously unreleased recordings still turning up even now. back in a moment with tonight's "making a difference" report. first, a little hendrix at woodstock. wee all the way home? wee e piggy: weeeeeee, weeeee, weeeeeee, weeeee weeeeeeee.
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finally tonight, a remarkable story of love and survival. you're about to meet a young mom who suddenly collapsed and for more than an hour, showed no signs of life. but her husband refused to give up on her. they're together and giving ck, making a difference by raising money and raising awareness. kristen welker has our sty. >> reporter: with every step, becky is beating steep odds. >> i'm just grateful to be alive. >> reporter: becky almost lost her life this july 1st. she and husband josh were sharing a quiet night at their home when disaster struck
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without warning. >> she said i love you rig before she walked away, and i heard her fall down. that's when i heard her agonal breathing, a medical term, it's not a good sign. >> reporter: but it was a sign josh recognized. incredibly, he's a nurse who specializein cardiovascular care. >> i actually did cpr for a couple minutes and realized she's not waking up. >> reporter: at just 28 years old, the mother of three had gone into sudden cardiac arrest. medics rushed to save her. they shocked her5 times. an agonizing 72 minutes passed with no sig of life. >> i went back to our wedding vows, and i promised her til death do us part,hat i would never give up on her. it was like she heard us because you know, two minutes later, she actually turned around. >> reporter: becky was breathing but her ordeal had just begun. e was unconscious for another ten days, until finally, she woke up.
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becky's doctorsrapped her in a hypothermic blanket. the idea is the cool the body and lessen brain damage. less than 10% of people survived what becky endured. >> it's a miracle she is where she is today, based on how long her brain was without any type of blood flow. >> reporter: bec is in therapy twice a week, battling neurological damage which makes it difficult to walk and talk but she is determined. feel like god equipped my husband and myself for this sort of situation so he prepared us. >> reporter: day, in indianapolis, after less than three months of rehabilitation, becky and josh, along with 55 family members and close friends, walked a full mile in that city's heart walk. team miracle girl, raising money for the american heart association and awareness about cpr. a small victory step at the end of a harrowing journey,
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dominated by two strong hearts and promises kept. nbc news, los angeles. that's "nbc nightly news" for this saturday. i'm lester holt reporting from new york. see you tomorrow morning on "today" then right bk here tomorrow evening. good night.

NBC Nightly News
NBC September 18, 2010 6:30pm-7:00pm EDT

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